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Settles v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

August 17, 2015

STEPHANIE SETTLES, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant

Page 164

          For STEPHANIE SETTLES, Plaintiff: Larry Paul Ellsworth, LEAD ATTORNEY, JENNER & BLOCK LLP, Washington, DC.

         For CAROLYN W. COLVIN, as Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant: Thomas McLean Nanni, LEAD ATTORNEY, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Office of the General Counsel, Baltimore, MD.

Page 165

         MEMORANDUM OPINION

         DEBORAH A. ROBINSON, United States Magistrate Judge.

         This case was referred to the undersigned for all purposes. See Notice, Consent, and Reference of a Civil Action to a Magistrate Judge (Document No. 22). Currently pending and ready for resolution are (1) Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment of Reversal (" Plaintiff's Motion" ) (Document No. 14) and (2) Motion for Judgment of Affirmance and in Opposition to Motion for Judgment of Reversal (" Defendant's Motion" ) (Document No. 15). Upon consideration of the motions, the memoranda in support thereof and in opposition thereto, and the entire record herein, Plaintiff's motion will be granted in part and Defendant's motion will be denied.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Stephanie Settles brings this action seeking judicial review of a final decision by Defendant Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, pursuant to Section 405(g) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § § 401 et seq. (" SSA" ). Id. ¶ ¶ 2-4.

         Procedural History

         On December 19, 1988, Plaintiff first applied for supplemental security income (" SSI" ). Administrative Record (" AR" )[1] at 493. On February 2, 1989, her application was granted. Id. On March 30, 2001, she was incarcerated for a one-year period, resulting in the automatic loss of her benefits. Id.

         On December 31, 2002, Plaintiff again applied for SSI. Id. On May 11, 2003, her claim was denied. Id. She sought reconsideration of that decision but that request was denied on November 10, 2003. Id.

         In 2004 and 2008, Plaintiff again applied for SSI, and those claims were similarly denied. Id. On May 21, 2010, she applied yet again for SSI, and on January 7, 2011, her claim was denied yet again. Id. On March 15, 2011, she filed for reconsideration. Id. at 86. On June 8, 2011, her claim for reconsideration was denied. Id. at 493.

         On August 2, 2011, Plaintiff filed a written request for a hearing. Id. at 22. That hearing was held on August 22, 2012. Id. On September 4, 2012, Administrative Law Judge (" ALJ" ) issued his determination, finding that Plaintiff was not disabled. Id. at 31. On September 24, 2013, the Commissioner denied the plaintiff's request for a review of the ALJ's September 4, 2012 decision. Id. at 1-4.

         Summary of the ALJ's Ruling

         On September 4, 2012, the ALJ issued a written opinion, wherein he ultimately concluded that Plaintiff (referred to by the ALJ as the claimant) was " not disabled under section 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Social Security Act." AR at 23-32. Specifically, the ALJ made the following ten summary findings:

1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 21, 2010, the application date (20 C.F.R. § 416.971 et seq. ).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: mild right-sided weakness as a result of alleged remote traumatic brain injury, depression, rule out posttraumatic stress disorder, and cocaine dependence in reported remission (20 C.F.R. § 416.920(c)).
3. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments

Page 166

that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 C.F.R. § 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. ยง 416.967(b) except that work must be unskilled, allow her to alternate between sitting ...

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